New Start Highland
Jamie Sword's 12-month graduate placement with social enterprise, New Start Highland, as IT Support Officer, clearly worked for him. He's now working permanently, somewhere very different, as he explains.
What’s your background?
I’m from Inverness, lived there most of my life. I graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a 2:1 MA (Hons) in Management Studies. I’d done a bunch of things in my time as a student - from football journalism to working at a golf course. But, the first significant career move that I took was when my application for my Graduate Placement at New Start Highland was accepted.
Why did you apply for the placement programme?
Well, I’d applied for a number of different graduate positions all over the country after graduating with no luck. I moved back to Inverness after graduating and worked as a Christmas temp in a shop whilst desperately looking for a permanent full-time job. Then, I spotted a link to the TalentScotland (now ScotGrad) Graduate Placement page. Reading through the vacancies, I spotted one in Inverness which sounded ideal.
What project were you involved in?
New Start Highland help less fortunate members of the community in a number of ways These include provision of furniture, job training, volunteering opportunities and housing support.
New Start Highland had grown quite rapidly in the ten years since its formation. They were expanding by moving to a new office and warehouse facility.
My role was IT Support Officer. This entailed a number of tasks over the year, starting with maintaining and updating the website, whilst providing desktop IT support to the rest of the team. This then evolved to being involved in the decision-making process, like buying a new computer system, an EPOS system and an online shop.
What did you learn on your placement?
The project was particularly helpful for me in a number of ways. I have gained some job specific technical skills, but mainly I improved greatly on my transferable skills, things like communication, time management, preparation for meetings and working both on my own and as part of a team. Also, I found that I was able to put into practice a lot of the business theory that I had learned whilst studying for my degree.
What have you taken away from the training course you attended as part of the Programme?
In all honesty, I wasn't sure what to expect before going to the training course. But by the end of my week, I didn't want to leave! I found it really beneficial, the topics that we studied were interesting and had the perfect blend of theoretical and practical exercise. Plus, it was great to meet fellow graduates from across the Highlands and Islands as well. The fact that everyone there got on so well, and that the tutors were so friendly, definitely helped. The whole week was thoroughly enjoyable and fun.
What have you learned on placement?
For me, things have really changed since finishing my placement. I finished in December, and in the second week of January, I moved out to Dubai to start work for an IT company. I am currently a project manager on various projects for the company. For example, work for a client which manufactures and repairs oil rigs. I think if it wasn't for the TalentScotland (now ScotGrad) Graduate Placement on my CV, I would never have had the opportunity to move out here. I am extremely glad and grateful that I was able to do so.
Any advice for other graduates?
I would definitely encourage other graduates to apply for the programme. It’s certainly helped me improve my range of skills, a great addition to my CV.